Pulpit Rock (2020) by Kate Rhodes

Summertime on St Mary’s, the largest of the Scilly Isles, and DI Ben Kitto was looking forward to nothing more than the annual Island Swimathon – until when training, his team arrive at Pulpit Rock to find a body hanging from it – a woman dressed in a bridal gown.

It soon becomes clear that a serial killer is stalking the island, looking for more victims. With all exit routes from the island closed, the killer must be part of the local community – it seems impossible that the killer could be unknown to people. But the attacks keep happening…

The fourth of the Scilly Isles series earns two negative marks. Well, two-and-a-half. First of all, the blurb (on Amazon at least) refers to it as a Locked Island Mystery. What the bloody hell does that mean? Anyway, this has nothing to do with a traditional locked room mystery and the island is big enough that while technically, it’s a closed circle of suspects mystery, it’s a big enough circle that we never meet everybody on the island. Of course, that’s nothing to do with the book itself.

Second black mark is for the fake-out at the end. It’s actually a plus point for the book, because one of the strengths of the series is the recurring characters, and the almost-death of one of them – a very important one – really upset me. I’ve become invested in this series since the first book, Hell Bay – still the best in the series, but this one is strong too – and I’m not prepared to say goodbye to that character yet.

The half negative mark? Well, it has to be said Kitto isn’t much of a detective, as he arrests at least two innocent people, accuses a few more and when he unmasks (literally) the murderer, he’s surprised at who it is. Because this isn’t a clued mystery – it’s more of a whodunit thriller. But it is a very good example of that genre.

There’s a good variety of suspicious characters on the island for the reader to play Guess Who? with, and it’s good to see Kitto’s personal life developing again, in a way that readers of the first book will probably be pleased with. This is a very good standalone thriller with added bonuses for readers who have read the other three books.

Pulpit Rock was published by Simon & Schuster in October 2020 and is available as a hardback or an ebook. Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the review copy.


  1. “…a Locked Island Mystery. What the bloody hell does that mean?”

    My goodness. 😳 I’d have found this hilarious 🤣 if not for the fact that I, too, am somewhat shocked by how review sites speak of modern-day authors writing ‘locked room mysteries in the vein of Agatha Christie’. 😱

    Have you read anything by Ruth Ware? She’s meant to be ‘today’s Agatha Christie’.


    • I wanted to look at One By One, but wasn’t approved on NetGalley – I think that’s the second time I’ve been turned down for Ruth’s work. Makes me want to try it more, because, of course, if I buy the book, I’ll definitely review it.


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